The Thrill of the Hunt, Part Two
The Basics of Consignment and Discount Shopping
- story by Greg Matusoff
Last month we covered thrift stores and seven tips to scoring big and many of those principles can be applied to the thrill of the hunt, part two - discount shopping.
As I see it, discount shopping can be broken down into two categories: used and new. By used, I'm referring to the second-hand/vintage clothing and consignment shops. And for new, we'll look at discount stores which are bigger, often chain stores that carry a variety of new clothing and home goods.
Shopping vintage and consignment shops is much more specialized than a standard thrift store. The items you'll find in this type of store are of higher quality and have been screened by the store purchaser prior to being stocked on the shelves.
Shopping vintage and consignment is a great way to find high-end labels at lower-end prices, with the latter often carrying last season and end of season clothing. The items might still have new tags, and you're more likely to find well-cared-for items that aren't ripped, worn-out, or t-shirts from a family reunion.
Again, this is not a gold mine every time you go. As with thrifting, it is hit or miss, but more often than not, I seem to find a big hit. The more often you go, the more you'll find, but don't expect too many once-in-a-lifetime finds. The staff working here is well versed in apparel and knows quality pieces and what's trending now and will price accordingly. That said, Prada sunglasses for $100 is a lot more palatable than $350+.
Locally we have a few great shops, including Identity Vintage in Bay St. Louis, for vintage pieces, Buffalo Exchange and Plato's Closet in New Orleans, Hertha's in Fairhope, and if you want to take a drive to my all-time favorite - Century 21 in Manhattan. And when you're there, don't forget the tailor and cobbler to make pieces fit great.
Vintage and Consignment Stores
But these, too, are hit and miss. If you ask, you might find someone who will advise of what day new stock arrives. It's typically one day a week with items going on the floor the next day. With this information in hand, it's always good to be the first to go through new inventory because sometimes there's only a few pieces/sizes of a particular item.
While you're asking questions, be sure and ask for common sale days or extra discount days. With Burkes, for example, they have both a senior's day (Monday Club) and a junior's day (Friday Club with junior being under 50). Just by getting a free Burkes card (discount, not credit) and showing up on your club day, you can get 15% off your entire purchase. It pays to ask!
The Burke's Outlet in Bay St. Louis just recently expanded from 10,000 to 21,000 square feet, so that's a big plus for local bargain hunters.
Keep in mind the items you find in discount stores typically fall into one of three categories: irregular, last season/overstock, or discount designer.
- The term really has a broad meaning, and don't let "defective" turn you off. You just need to be mindful that items might have a slight or not so slight variance. This could be that a stitch was off and it didn't pass inspection or one pant leg might be longer than the other. So, try everything on, and keep the tailor in the back of your mind.
- These items were manufactured with anticipated sales in mind, but didn’t sell as expected in higher end shops and department stores. These are great finds because they're sometimes the same piece that's being sold elsewhere at a fraction of the price. Alternatively, you might see a 'last season' sticker. This is even better because you know that there are no defects, and especially when it comes to workout clothes, you can score some big savings.
- Lastly, there are designers that are teaming up with more mainstream stores. Mossimo at Target is a prime example of a big designer label that is producing trendy clothes for high-end boutiques but also has a more mass-produced (and more cheaply made) line at Target, but, it's stylish and affordable. For a short time years ago, Benetton, one of my favorite brands, had a line at Sears, but unfortunately, that's over.
Whether it's new or used, old or fresh off the runway, have fun with discount shopping. You can find some great items, expand your wardrobe, and in the end, we should all feel good about our own personal expression and live an inspired life.